Cadiz Inc. (NASDAQ: CDZI) (“Cadiz”) reported today that the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors voted to approve the Groundwater Management, Monitoring, and Mitigation Plan (“GMMMP”) for the Cadiz Valley Water Conservation, Recovery and Storage Project (“Project”). This represents another significant milestone for the Project, which will provide an annual reliable water supply to Southern California communities by capturing and conserving native groundwater currently being lost to evaporation from the aquifer system beneath the Company’s property in eastern San Bernardino County’s Cadiz Valley. The County’s action authorizes the Project to withdraw an average of 50,000 acre-feet of water per year.
The Project’s Environmental Impact Report (“EIR”) was certified on July 31, 2012 by the Santa Margarita Water District (“SMWD”), the Lead Agency of the Project’s California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) environmental review and permitting process. The County has served as a Responsible Agency in the CEQA review process as the local government entity responsible for oversight over groundwater resources in the Cadiz Valley. In addition to approving the GMMMP, the County adopted certain findings under CEQA and is the first responsible agency to take an approving action pursuant to the certified EIR. Earlier this year, SMWD, Cadiz and the County entered into a Memorandum of Understanding creating the framework for finalizing the GMMMP in accordance with the County's desert groundwater ordinance.
Critics of the Project have requested independent review of groundwater data and separate enforcement authority that would be held by a disinterested regulatory body. The County’s action is responsive to this request. As part of its approval of the GMMMP yesterday, the County formally established an independent enforcement role over Project’s operations and authorized groundwater withdrawals that will avoid harm to desert resources.
“As a member of the desert community for over 25 years, Cadiz has taken great care to ensure that the Project will protect critical resources of the desert by committing to comprehensive, long-term monitoring enforced by San Bernardino County.” said Company President and General Counsel Scott Slater. “We thank the County for their diligence in reviewing the Project and look forward to working together as the Project moves ahead.”